Misunderstood and Lean

The number of main operating bases in Europe, along with the number of aircraft and aircraft squadrons in theater, has declined by about 75 percent since the height of the Cold War, while the number of Air Force personnel assigned to US Air Forces in Europe has dropped by about 55 percent over that span. Still, the operational tempo continues to climb for Air Force assets in that region. “My sincere belief is many of our leaders, military and elected, … have a misunderstanding, or an understanding that is about this 1990s kind of force that we have: all kinds of infrastructure and all kinds of airplanes and all kinds of people are over here. But in reality, we’re down by about 75 percent in almost every category that we measure,” Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, vice commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, told Air Force Magazine during a visit to the command’s headquarters at Ramstein AB, Germany, in mid June. Jones said there are 34,000 personnel assigned to USAFE-AFAFRICA. There are 10 aircraft squadrons and 200 airplanes. By comparison, as a wing commander at Luke AFB, Ariz., from 2006-2008, Jones oversaw 10 fighter squadrons and 200 aircraft. “So, I had as many squadrons and aircraft under a single base in the United States as we have almost in the entire command here at USAFE,” he said.